Want to learn more about Smart Grid? – Don’t call your utility. - 28 Jan 2011

A recent thesis written by an undergraduate at Purdue University in the USA has found that utility call centers can’t answer some of the basics on smart grid.

The thesis involved the researcher calling 100 electricity companies that were planning or deploying smart grid technologies. The result was that many of the utilities’ employees were not equipped to answer questions.

The researcher posed as a customer moving into the area and asked six questions: 

  • Is your company doing anything to implement Smart Grid technology?
  • Do you have information available about the Smart Grid?
  • Do your customers have smart meters?
  • Does your company have a smart meter program where consumers will get smart meters?
  • Do you have information about smart meters? How can I get this information?
  • Does your company have a corporate green/conservation philosophy? Where can I get that?

Many of the utilities that were contacted were still in the infancy of their smart grid rollout. But even though all of the utilities had some project in the works, 11% said they were not familiar with smart grid technologies. Some companies claimed that they were aware of the Smart Grid technology but were afraid to implement it as it would eliminate jobs within the company.

The research also showed that only one third of call centers could give any additional information about their smart grid projects and less than half knew about programs where customers would get smart meters now or in the future. Another conclusion drawn from the thesis was that customer service is poor.

On a positive note, more than 90% of customer service representative were versed in “green” and energy saving initiatives and could talk in detail about what the programs were.

The conclusion of the thesis was that while utilities are embracing Chief Customer Officers to plan long-tern strategies, there needs to be some triage on what can be done to improve customer service on the front lines.

For more information see: Want to Learn About Smart Grid - Don't call you utility

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